Reservoir Dogs - The opening scene for this film is pretty fantastic. QT sets up his dialogue wonderfully, allows his camera to roam freely, and pretty much lets the viewer know what world is being created. From that point on the film proves to be one fun ride marked by some wonderful scenes and what I consider to be a pretty damn great soundtrack. I've watched the film before so I knew where we were headed, mostly, some things left my mind at first but as I watched again they did come back almost completely. I did see things a little differently this time though considering I've had more exposure to film and I like to think that as a viewer I have at least grown a little bit. I do think that QT displays a great level of prowess with his camera and I do think that it really adds to the film. The director demands that you become invested personally, evidenced in the more natural shots that I wrote about earlier, but he also makes sure to put the audience at a distance, as shown by the more traditional shots, like the one with Roth pacing back and forth in his apartment.
The performances are really great, the stand out though, clearly, is Steve Buscemi. He's funny, he's serious, he's neurotic, and he gives what seems to be the most believable performance of anyone in the sense that I can imagine that any sane criminal in his position would act the same way. Madsen is also pretty great, though he strays away from the whole traditonal character thing, but maybe he's not supposed to be a character. roujin said he didn't see the people in the film as characters and while I didn't follow that up, I didn't want any outside influence swaying my viewing, I can kind of see that, but I still think that QT invites, at too many times, the personal aspect, that he seems to want these characters all real and fleshed out.
The problem, I think, is that not too much is fleshed out. I like the choice to not show the robbery, I think that works, and the tension in the film is pretty damn high, but as far as characters go I think that most of the offerings are pretty weak. We get development from Mr. White, I guess, but that's about it, everyone else is stagnant. Now I think it's a testament to the writing that, even as flat characters I still seemed to have an idea of who the primary figures 'are,' and they are usually entertaining, but I think this weakness is exposed during some of the flashbacks. When Madsen's character is clowning around with Eddie or Roth is talking about the infiltration, it's fun to watch, but it carries on so long that you really begin to realize that some of these characters are hollow. And then there's the whole car ride from Roth's apartment with Mr. Pink, Eddie, and White where the whole scene drags on and feels unnecessary. The film has noticeable lows, but the highs are so high, that torture scene is so God damn great, that I continue to enjoy the film and really can recommend it to just about anyone who is even remotely interested in this genre.
Trust - First Hal Hartley film for me, and like Reservoir Dogs this film starts out with a bang. Marked by very professional directing, that free camera does not exist here as each shot Hartley shows to the viewer seems to be carefully planned and masterfully executed, the film is pretty much a technical powerhouse. Particularly impressive is the attention to little details that Hartley seems to have packed into the film. While my memory of 1990 is at a loss thanks to what I have been told is infantile amnesia, the characters really seemed to mark that transition from the 80's to the 90's wonderfully. Visually I think it worked really well, at least i really enjoyed it. The symbolism worked considerably better though and I can actually tackle that and apply meaning to some of the things that Hartley did. The glasses thing was a little too much, but the choice to have the Maria character in Matthew's mother's dress was great and helped bring out something subtle to reinforce their relationship and make it more believable. Plus that scene where Maria has Matthew's apartment practically fall down around her is absolutely genius, it really works symbolically and showcases the pitch perfect direction.
Performances are all great, I cannot say that one stands out as better than any of the others, though I really did enjoy Matthew and Maria, because the supporters are so damn fantastic. Maria's mother is great, Matthew's father is terrific, and that one football player is so great. I think I enjoyed the complex narrative, on a base level the story is fairly simplistic, but it seems fairly obvious that Hartley does not want the film to be taken at a surface level. That scene early on with the baby being taken should be enough of an indicator that Hartley is commenting on social aspects of marriage and, I believe, the American experience, but then you mix in the whole hand grenade element and the thesaurus thing and the film begins to scream "Look deeper!" Thankfully I think the film does work at a deeper level, giving it an artistic quality that is pretty damn impressive. When I say that the film works at a deeper level I mean to say that it deals with complex themes that are, mostly, applicable to people as a whole. The romance aspect isn't even what I mean to drive at, the film also tackles isolation and the transitional period from child to adult wonderfully. I don't know, I may just be a bit naive. Oh yeah, speaking of knaves, the humor works incredibly well.
Ultimately, that scene of everything breaking really works to sum up the film as a whole. The film doesn't really take any turns, even less than Reservoir Dogs, but it still remains incredibly engrossing for some reason despite knowing how it's going to end. Two common comparisons come to mind. Some experiences are called dreamlike or surreal, and I think that can make for an engaging film and is part of the reason why this works, it takes reality and heightens it so high that it almost becomes surreal, but it does not. The other is a car crash, it's commonly said that people only watch things like NASCAR for the crashes, and when driving traffic jams seems to happen because people just can't help but looking over when a crash happens, and that crash happens in the first scene of the film and remains present throughout. These two descriptions though are not usually combined, but I think this film blends them beautifully, and that is where I think the film's genius is really found. It has highs, but not huge ones, but the film is so consistently engaging for so many reasons that I cannot help but call Trust a great film.